Thursday, July 25, 2013

25 months and 6 weeks

I can’t believe how different my girls are.  Berlin is only 7 weeks old, but her little spirit is already so apparent and I can see the differences in these two.

Olivia is and always has been my sunshine.  I always tell her that.  Not the quiet rays at the day’s end, but the bright, bursting light of midday that warms your core and makes you squint.  She lights up whatever space she is in and leaves very little room for anything but her energy.  She engages others with an eagerness that is irresistible and just oozes joy and a thirst for life.  Every emotion she feels, she feels as strongly as possible.  She isn’t just happy, she is ecstatic; she isn’t sad, she is hysterically devastated; she isn’t angry, she is red in the face and irate.  She dances when she hears music, she laughs at her own jokes, she hums and prances when eating a good treat, and sings to keep busy.  She is never still unless she is asleep or her favorite show is on and she makes me feel inadequate on a daily basis to be trusted with such a bright being.  I pray often that my shortcomings as her mother don’t dim her spirit.  Olivia is going to be something great.

Olivia Kimber:
-Is a fantastic big sister.  She is always hugging and kissing Berlin, runs to check on her when she cries, and likes to 'push' her in the baby swing and sing to her.  She calls her 'Beebee' for baby, or 'Bayee' for Berlin.  When she greets her she says "Awww Bayeeee! Coooo" (cute)
-Would be thrilled if we'd let her live outside.  She loves playing in the backyard or at the park by our house.  She and I go exploring in the forest by the lake every chance we get (when we can get Berlin down for a long nap).
-Loves bugs, flowers, trees, and water.  She goes after the small snakes we have seen in the yard on occasion, and will pick up any bug.  We are trying to teach her not to touch spiders because we don't know which are harmful, but she is just so curious and unafraid.
-Loves to help, whether it's getting a diaper, sweeping the floor, or filling up a bucket and watering the garden.
-Is extremely headstrong and independent.  I am definitely learning patience with this girl.  I have learned that getting angry and raising my voice at all has the opposite effect of what I want.  If I treat her like an adult and explain reasons for things, she responds really well.
-Can identify yellow, blue, pink, and red.  Her favorite is pink, I guess the gender definition starts young :)
-Likes to draw circles and balloons
-Is slowly, but surely, getting the hang of potty training.  It has been quite the ordeal and I will do a post all about it when I feel like she is fully trained.
-Takes a two-hour nap at noon, goes to bed at 7pm in her crib, and wakes up at 7am.
-Loves to play hiding games and ring around the rosie, can make almost any animal noise, and identify most animals.  She calls them by the noises they make instead of their names, but knows what the names are and can pick out which animal I ask her.
-Her favorite food is still yogurt.  She has become pickier about veggies (maybe because i have been lazier about fixing them for her and making her eat them).
-She calls treats "peedow", panties are "peedapaw", and popsicles are "poppies".  She will mimic anything we ask her to say, but not always legibly.
-Her favorite animal is an elephant and her favorite show/movies are Winnie the Pooh, Toy Story, and Dora (I'm not a fan of Dora).
-She loves her cousins, and basically any other child she comes in to contact with.  She is incredible at sharing toys and food and very inclusive.  She loves to introduce herself by going up to another child and putting her arm around them, looking them in the face, and talking to them (they usually can't understand her).  If another child snatches her toy, she is good at going to find another one instead of causing issue.
-She is not very good at independent play.  She has been an only child most of her life and had her mom to herself all day and her dad working at home and doesn't like to play by herself.  If I'm busy with something else, she is usually pulling on my hand or shirt saying "Mom, mom, mom, mama, mama, play, play, play..."  I'm glad she has a sister whom she can soon play with

Berlin, though still so new, is just magic to me.  That is the best way I can describe her right now.  She makes my every day just feel so magical.  If Olivia is the sun, then Berlin is a sparkling star.  She is so beautifully calm and still sometimes that I feel like she can read my thoughts and communicate without words or gestures.  She is such an old soul.  She is completely motivated by touch.  She loves to be held and snuggled and kissed.  She holds my hands like we are old friends and pulls me in close when I hold her against my shoulder.  Today she even turned her head and kissed me on the lips.  When she is asleep and I kiss her chubby cheek, she smiles.  She calms easily when upset, and is patient with her sister’s loud affection.  Her wild, dark hair makes her look like something otherworldly, like some sort of forest imp.  I feel like our souls have known each other forever and have been overjoyed these past 7 weeks to be reunited.  I feel like I am at home when I hold her.

Oakley Berlin:
-Wears 0-3 month clothes and size 1 diapers
-Has slept through the night since she was 3 weeks old, with only one 4am feeding
-Has long, thick, dark hair that she loves to touch, and dark bluish/grey eyes.
-Is so affectionate.  When Olivia was an infant she loved to eat always.  Berlin eats when she needs to, but what she really loves is to be held, snuggled, and kissed.
-Does not take naps well during the day
-Makes kissy lips frequently
-Splays her fingers out straight when eating or relaxing.  I joke that she is going to be a cheerleader and is practicing her spirit fingers
-Is very patient with her rambunctious older sister and puts up with rough hugs and kisses
-Is getting super chubby, super fast
-Smiles easily when I talk sweetly to her, and smiles in her sleep when I kiss her cheeks
-Doesn't cry during baths, but doesn't seem overly thrilled
-Went to her first movie in the theatre the other day: Monsters University
-Has long feet and toes and tiny ears like me
-Does not like her swing or carseat, but is getting better at sitting in them for short periods
-Is a calm, happy baby who seems older than she is

Thursday, July 18, 2013

4th of July

Jack and I LOVE the 4th of July.  It's such a fun summer holiday to spend watching parades, barbecuing with family,  swimming, lighting fireworks, and celebrating our independence and those who fight for it.  

Our yearly tradition of Village Inn for breakfast 

Berlin wore the same outfit that Olivia did two years ago.

We lit fireworks in the church parking lot by my MIL's house.  The kids always love catching parachutes and lighting sparklers

Monday, July 15, 2013

My go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe

Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • 2 and 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, spoon & leveled
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, loosely packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg + 1 egg yolk 
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chocolate chips or chocolate chunks
  1. Toss together the flour, baking soda, cornstarch and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.
  2. In a medium size bowl, whisk the melted butter, brown sugar, and white sugar together until no brown sugar lumps remain. Whisk in the egg, then the egg yolk. Finally, whisk in the vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix together with a large spoon or rubber spatula. The dough will be very soft. Fold in the chocolate chips. They may not stick to the dough because of the melted butter, but do your best to have them evenly dispersed among the dough. Cover the dough and chill for 2 hours, or up to 3 days. Chilling is mandatory.
  3. Take the dough out of the refrigerator and allow to slightly soften at room temperature for 10 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 325F degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.
  5. Roll the dough into balls, about 3 Tablespoons of dough each. The dough will be crumbly, but the warmth of your hands will allow the balls to stay intact. Roll the cookie dough balls to be taller rather than wide, to ensure the cookies will bake up to be thick.  Put 8 balls of dough onto each cookie sheet. Press a few more chocolate chips/chunks on top of the dough balls for looks, if desired. Bake the cookies for 11-12 minutes. The cookies will look very soft and underbaked. Do not bake longer than 12 minutes. They will continue to bake on the cookie sheet. Allow to cool on the cookie sheet for 10 minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Book Club

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

10 out of 10

This a beautiful book.  I found it by browsing highly-rated books on Amazon.  It allows you to read the first few pages and I was hooked.  In gorgeous detail, it describes the Alaskan wilderness, and the heartache of an older couple who move there to settle and farm a piece of land.  The couple are childless and have moved to Alaska to escape the sadness caused by this fact.  One night they build a snow girl and then after finding their creation destroyed, they see a girl wandering in the forest.  The author captures the wife's loneliness and heartache so well and ties it into the barren landscape, painting a vivid picture and drawing you in.

The Gable Faces East by Anita Stansfield

7.5 out of 10

When I was in Middle School and High School, I loooved Anita Stansfield and had read all of her books.  I wanted to revisit one of my favorites a couple of weeks ago and read The Gable Faces East.  It's a prequel to her First Love series, and is a historical epic about love, horse racing, loss, and a little bit of mystery, and is set on a station in the Australian outback.  Reading it again, I didn't love it as much as I did when I was younger and there are lots parts that are a bit corny for me, but it's a good read. up: Lord of the Flies

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Week 5 with BerlinBaby

I can't believe Berlin is already 6 weeks old.  I have been enjoying her so much more than I thought possible.  I didn't enjoy Olivia this much when she was an infant because I had so much anxiety about what I didn't know, and wanting to do everything just right and be the perfect mom.  Add in reflux and colic, and Olivia was one tough ride.  It is so nice to have more self-assurance the second time around.  There are still really hard days when the anxiety threatens and I feel in over my head, but I love having two girls.  There is seriously so much magic in our house with these two, and such an incredible spirit.
I have learned (and been blessed) to relax.  I'm finding out that, as long as my girls are content, I'm doing just fine.

Berlin is difficult to put down for a nap. For about the past week, she has only taken cat naps.  I know I'm doing everything right: I feed her, have some awake time, swaddle her, rock her until she is drowsy, and then lay her in bed.  She inevitably cries and sometimes I have to go in a dozen times to calm her.  Sometimes she doesn't ever end up going to sleep and I have to start all over again at the next feeding. Then it's a vicious cycle, because after a few hours she is so overtired that she has an even harder time falling asleep.  Also, she hates her swing, bouncer, and car seat and will not tolerate them for more than a few minutes so there's no chance of getting her to sleep with the help of those. It's exhausting and makes things pretty difficult for me because I feel like if I just let it go and carry her around, she won't learn to get on a nap schedule, but if I spend all day trying to get her down, then Olivia is neglected and ends up watching way too much TV so that I don't have her following me around, hanging on me and keeping Berlin up.  The past three days she has been awake from 7:30am to about 2pm, and today she only took a 20 minute nap between 10 and 5! Unheard of for a newborn!

I have written down a schedule and put it up on the fridge so I can make sure I am consistent, and also so I can see and make note of what she struggles with so I can make changes to meet her natural tendencies (when she gets hungry earlier, when she will and won't sleep) and then I'm not fighting her natural inclinations, but rather making them part of her schedule.  Then we will both know what to plan on everyday.  As far as the nap aversion goes, I'm hoping it's just a {terrible} phase that will pass quickly as she learns to self-soothe and fall asleep outside of my arms so I can get some things done!

Despite the nap thing though, she really is the sweetest little thing.  She is a calm, content baby (unless it's the end of a napless day) and seems like such an old soul in a tiny little body.  Maybe that's the problem.  Old souls don't need naps ;)

We are jumping with both feet into potty training with Olivia!  I am actually really excited to see how she does and how quickly she catches on.  She seems pretty in tune with her body and when she goes in her diaper, so I'm hoping it will be a pain-free process.  She hates getting her diaper changed more than anything, so it will be nice not to have those daily battles.  We bought her some Princess underwear, with a different princess for every day of the week.  My wonderful friend, Andrea, emailed me an ebook that she used and loves so I will post more about that if it works and our process once we are done!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Summer goods

Liv and I decided the cool breeze yesterday morning made it a good day to go exploring.  Luckily Berlin cooperated by going down for a long morning nap so I could leave her at home with Jack while he was working.  I discovered that Olivia is a great hiker as we walked through the paths and trails next to Utah lake by our house.  She loves collecting sticks, finding bugs, and following butterflies.  When she finally got tired she walked up to me and held her arms up to be carried, but got back down after 30 seconds when she couldn't resist investigating a particularly tempting pile of sticks.

One of my favorite things about summer is how much delicious fruit is in season.  I love keeping fresh peaches on the counter to peel and top with lite Cool Whip, and big bowls of cherries and chopped pineapple and watermelon in the fridge to snack on all day.  It has been great for shedding the baby weight also.  With both girls I lost my appetite completely the week after giving birth and just shed water weight like crazy.  The first week after I had Berlin I lost 24 pounds.  The second week 4 pounds, and then 2 pounds each of the next two weeks.  I have ten pounds to go before I'm at my pre-baby weight and keeping fruit in good supply is helping a lot.  As far as a diet goes, I'm just sticking with clean eating as much as I usually do, which means only whole grains instead of refined carbs, lots of fruits and veggies, dairy, and lean proteins like chicken and fish.  No low-fat, low-sugar, chemically options.  I do have desserts of course :)  I would say that I don't exercise, but I just realized that when you have a two-year-old (especially one as active as Liv) you are basically exercising all day, chasing, playing, and lifting....and exploring.

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